According to historian Herbert Butterfield, the Scientific Revolution in 17th century Europe “outshines everything since the rise of Christianity and reduces the Renaissance and Reformation to the rank of mere episodes, mere internal displacements within the system of medieval Christendom.” In stark contrast, historian Stephen Shapin has argued, “There was no such thing as the Scientific
Revolution.” In this course, we will investigate why these narratives about 17th century science differ so markedly. To do so, we will study the work of Galileo, Descartes, and Newton to explore in what ways their “mechanical philosophy” differed from Aristotelian philosophy, which had been dominant in Europe and the middle East since antiquity.
TEXT: No Textbook Required. Course materials on CANVAS.